Elly Swartz Interview - Hidden Truths


Praise for Hidden Truths

 "A warm testament to the healing power of mutual respect—and doughnuts."—Kirkus Reviews, starred review

 "Swartz’s latest is realistic fiction at its best."—SLJ, starred review

Great things happen when you preorder HIDDEN TRUTHS!

You can win a free virtual visit with me! All you have to do is: 

♥ Pre-order a copy (oh, please pre-order a copy : )  

♥ Send proof to hiddentruthspreorder@gmail.com  

Easy Peasy. Once you do that, you’ll be entered to win the free virtual visit with me. 

If you want a personalized, signed copy, order from either of my amazing, local independent bookstores:  

♥ Eight Cousins  

♥ Wellesley Books  

Q: Welcome to TWR! We are so excited to share about your upcoming release, Hidden Truths, with kids everywhere! Can you start by telling us a little background about yourself?

A: Hi, my friends. And huge thanks for having on TWR! I love your blog. 

So, a bit about me. I grew up in Yardley, a small town in Pennsylvania. At the time, there were many cornfields and cows. Boredom was a popular sport. I lived in a red, brick house on Queens Drive with my mom, dad, two older brothers who picked on her regularly as a kid (less so as a grown-up) and dogs (first Missy and later Sam). My childhood was a happy one with many laughs, family dinners and crooked birthday cakes.

I love writing for children but didn’t take a direct path to this career. I studied psychology at Boston University and got my law degree at Georgetown University School of Law. I was a ride operator at Sesame Place, spent time working in a furniture store, was a messenger, law library assistant, legal author, litigator, legal research and writing professor and college essay adviser.

Bazooka Joe

Not long after I began writing, I got the first sign that, indeed, this was the right path for me. I opened a piece of Bazooka Joe gum and wrapped around the sugary, pink delight was a fortune that read, “You have the ability to become outstanding in literature.”

I keep this fortune tacked to the bulletin board next to my desk. It reminds me of luck, hope, perseverance, and joy—the feeling I get every time I hear from a reader.

Q: Tell us about your upcoming book.

A: Hidden Truths is about Danielle (Dani) and Eric who are neighbors and best friends navigating the challenges of middle school, mean girls, social media fame, bullying, and crushes. Not to mention, a rift in their own friendship. Written in dual points of view, the reader gets to hear from both Dani and Eric as they each tell their side.

Dani is strong, empowered and knows exactly what she wants—to be the first girl on the all-boys’ baseball team. She’s tired of hearing, “Blah, blah, blah, you’re good for a girl.”

Eric is loyal and goofy, loves crossword puzzles and Iron Man, and has ADHD. Unlike Dani, he has no idea what he wants, but is totally okay doing lots of different things.

They share a love of donuts and hotdogs and superheroes.

Until an accident happens on their annual camping trip. Dani’s injured and her dream is sidelined. Eric fears it’s all his fault. 

Lies are told, secrets are kept, promises are made.

Dani drifts away from Eric, and in the end, learns it isn’t what you do that matters, but who you are. 

Eric, defying expectations, takes on a big company to keep his promise to Dani and fight for what he thinks is right. He learns what others see as a weakness in him, is really his superpower. 

Both stories come together to breakdown stereotypes and explore issues of guilt and the healing power of forgiveness.

So, the real question is are you #TeamEric or #TeamDani?

Q: Did any of your own life experiences become a muse for Hidden Truths? 

A: There were several aspects of my life that informed this story. The first is the bullying that Eric experienced. This stemmed, in part, from a personal bullying experience I had in 7th grade. There were mean things written on a bathroom stall, threats, shoulder bumps in the hallway, and mean looks. Truth is that even today when I think about those moments, I’m back to being 12 and feeling scared. I think there are times in life that stick to you and for me, that was one of them. I often wonder about this person and what was going on in her life that made her behave that way. Like with Leo in Hidden Truths, there is always something we don’t see. 

This is me at 12.

A child with long hair smiling

Description automatically generated

The second aspect was Eric’s ADHD. There is someone in my life that I love who has ADHD. While I saw them struggle in the traditional school setting, I also saw them shine in ways that I found truly amazing. They viewed the world in a beautifully curious manner, did the deep dive into things they loved, and solved problems in the most creative ways. Just like Eric. I wanted this person to see what I saw – that this was their superpower. 

There are many moments in the story that I relate to. But another aspect I connect with is the idea of having forever people in your life – loving them, fighting for them, and forgiving them.

Q; What makes this book a perfect fit for middle grade classrooms? 

A: Everything! I love this question because I truly feel Hidden Truths addresses so many aspects of a middle schooler’s life: changing friendships, social media fame, peer pressure, first crushes, bullying, identity, honesty, forgiveness, and making a difference in the world. And because this story is written from dual points of view, I feel there is something or someone for every reader to connect with.

Q; What are some challenges you faced during your writing process? 

A: Ha! This book took me 22 years to write! I would say that was the biggest challenge. But some stories you can never walk away from. And this was one of them.

I’m so proud of this story. And that I stayed with it for all those years. Recently, I was honored to learn that Hidden Truths has received 2 starred reviews! A first for me. When I learned about the stars, there were many happy tears! And a full heart!!

 "A warm testament to the healing power of mutual respect—and doughnuts."—Kirkus Reviews, starred review

 "Swartz’s latest is realistic fiction at its best."—SLJ, starred review

Q; Was there anything different about writing Hidden Truths versus your other titles

A: This was the first story I wrote with dual points of view. And I loved sharing both Eric and Dani’s stories, their hearts, and experiences. I think kids—or maybe people of all ages—often believe their experience is the only way to process a particular event. What they don’t realize is that there are many ways to experience something. There is never just one way. 

Each person brings their own life moments and emotions to a particular event. That changes how that event impacts them. My hope is that Dani and Eric’s journeys will help readers see this. Understand that no one’s experience is THE experience or THE right way. It is just theirs. And I hope that readers can honor that. Respect the differences. See past their own way of processing something to understand, empathize, and connect with another.

Q; What is the biggest takeaway you want kids to get from your story.

A: From Hidden Truths, I want readers to know that they are more than the way the world defines them. They are not one thing. Dani’s not just baseball and Eric’s not just forgetful. They are each a blend of the wonderfully imperfect traits that make them unique and special. 

I want them to know the power of forgiveness. It is harder to stay mad than it is to forgive.

I want them to know they are not alone. 

I want them to know their voice matters. They can make a real difference in the world.

I want them to know that I see them. I respect them. And I honor them. 

Q: What’s the best thing about being a writer?

A: Getting lost in the world you’re creating and meeting readers. Those are my favorite aspects about being a writer.

Q: What else would you like us to know? WIPs?

A: I’m so excited to share my next next book with you. Stand By Me, is about a take-charge sixth grader Bess Stein who brings together friends, a crush, and a group of rockstar librarians called the Book Warriors to fight a book ban happening at her middle school. This book will fly into the world in 2025.  I love this book and can’t wait for you to meet Bess!


Elly Swartz is the acclaimed author of six middle grade novels: Finding Perfect, Smart Cookie, Give and Take, Dear Student, Hidden Truths, and Stand By Me (coming 2025). Swartz’s books reflect her commitment to raising awareness about mental health and neurodiversity. Her debut novel, Finding Perfect, was named one of the Best Children’s Books About Mental Health by the Child Mind Institute, Dear Student was recommended by Parents Magazine, and her upcoming book Hidden Truths has received 2 starred reviews–one from Kirkus and one from School Library Journal. 

Swartz studied psychology at Boston University and received her JD at Georgetown University School of Law. She travels the country meeting with thousands of students each year to empower their own personal narrative. Swartz resides in Massachusetts. Connect with Elly at ellyswartz.com, on Twitter @ellyswartz, on Instagram or Threads @ellyswartzbooks. 

HIDDEN TRUTHS (Delacorte/ Random House Children's Books - coming Halloween 2023)
STAND BY ME (Delactore/ Random House Children's Books - coming spring 2025)
DEAR STUDENT (Delacorte/ Random House Children's Books) 
SMART COOKIE (Scholastic)